FinalTechnical Report: Effects of Complex Language in Learning andTeaching
FinalTechnical Report: Effects of Complex Language in Learning andTeaching
Naturally,the complexity or simplicity of language used really depends on therecipient of the message being passed across. This is due to the factthat an individual passing a message across already knows what theyare trying to convey. In the most basic terms, simple language issaid to refer to a combination of words and phrases that areconsidered straightforward and common to the average human being. Forthis reason, simple language is easy to understand and comprehend.Complex language, on the other hand, refers to a combination of wordsand phrases that are less common to the recipient, making it moredifficult for the recipient to comprehend.
Ina classroom setting, teachers, and their students interact with theprocesses of teaching and learning. This creates a communicationplatform which involves the use of language. Does the classroomsituation thrive under the use of simple language or complexlanguage? What is most suitable for the processes of teaching andlearning to take place in a most amicable way? Some people may arguethat the use of simple language in teaching and learning makes iteasier for students to comprehend the subject matter being taught.However, advocates of complex language may be of the opinion that theuse of complex language assists the students to further develop theirknowledge. This is necessary especially if they are to fit in thecurrent world which is gradually turning into one small globalvillage.
Basedon the above, it was deemed necessary to find out whether there areany effects of using complex education in teaching and learning.Various institutions of learning formed the heart of this research.Face to face interviews were conducted with various stakeholdersincluding teachers, students, the general public, curriculumdevelopers and corporate executives. A two-part questionnaire wasadministered to each participant to enable the collection of personaland expert view on the topic.
Atthe end of the research, the participants proved the hypothesis wrongby claiming that complex education has positive effects on theprocesses of learning and teaching. The hypothesis stated that “Anidea, thought or feeling is more effectively and easily expressedusing simple and clear language as opposed to using complexlanguage”. Inreaction to the results of the research, the report has prescribed anumber of possible implications likely to be taken by policy makersand users of the systems.
Usingthe most basic and plain terms, language is a code that is used forthe purposes of communication. That is the reason why even withoutthe use of words, those with hearing and speaking disabilities aresaid to use sign language in communicating. For the purposes of theproject at hand though, language shall be used in reference to theuse of spoken and written words. In this regard, language is said toconsist of words connected together using a series of rules with theaim of making them meaningful to the intended audience. However, thisis a narrow perspective of viewing language because it depictslanguage as merely understanding vocabulary and the rules governingthe art of constructing sentences, thus failing to discover thecomplexities involved in language as a communication tool.
Perceivinglanguage as a personal, open, energetic, dynamic, and constantlyevolving concept presents the rich complexities of communication. Theexpanded view ensures that the student’s educational experience ismore engaging. Naturally, language is less of a study subject butmore of a means through which students see, understand andcommunicate with the world. Every individual makes use of theirdifferent language to achieve these goals. They make use of languagefor purposes of purposeful communication. That is the reason whylearning a new language incorporates learning how to use new words,and the rules that govern its use, thus making it easier tocommunicate with other users of the language. This understandingdepicts language as a social tool that everyone can participate in,as opposed to simply referring to it as a body of language forknowledge. It is something that human beings do in their day to daylives, using it in expressing, creating and interpreting meaningswhile at the same time establishing and maintaining social andinterpersonal relationships (Svalberg, 2007).
Languageplays an extremely crucial role in the national academic curriculum.It is at the heart of teaching and learning, making it necessary forstakeholders to regularly reflect on the constitution of the languageappropriate for students (Shohamy, 2007). Great demands have beenmade of teachers at all academic levels to apply the use of complexlinguistic and grammatical concepts, especially in secondary schools.These requirements turn out to be rather demanding for both thelearners and teachers. According to Hudson & Walmsley (2005), alot of the younger teachers lack sufficient grammar knowledge. Theyalso view explicit teaching of grammar with suspicion, factors whichbring problems in the attempt to implement programs of introducingcomplex language in the education systems. The scholars also statethat when new recruits are recruited into teacher traininginstitutions, their knowledge of language is usually insufficientwhile others lack confidence in their knowledge. The reason behindthis insufficiency is the fact that these individuals pick languagein an unsystematic manner all along their educational journey(Cajkler & Hislam, 2002).
Ithas been noted that teachers have limited time while their workloadis overwhelming. In order to meet their performance targets, teachersmust organize and plan their lessons in advance, teach theirstudents, carry out regular assessments and mark them, grade thestudents and also take part in extra-curricular activities that thestudents engage in. This workload may sometimes overwhelm theteachers, thus reducing the energy that is put in teaching andensuring quality education is imparted. The pupils, for obviousreasons, also have difficulties in learning complex language andgrammatical concepts.
Withinthe margins of a professional environment, educators must ensure thattheir learners are opened up to opportunities that allow them topursue issues beyond their current boundaries. This opens to them thepossibilities of learning how to engage with aspects that are bothunpredictable and unplanned. Therefore, learning language as acomplex and personal system of communication incorporates recurrentinvestigation to understand its dynamic systems and the manner inwhich it works in creation and conveyance of meanings. This literallymeans that the learner continuously analyses and analytically talksabout language. Learners need skills that provide them with theindependence to use and analyze language, irrespective of itssimplicity or complexity.
Thesituation described presents the presence of a problem in theeducation sector. The problem made it necessary to carry out theresearch aimed at seeking the effects of using complex language inteaching and learning. The type of research carried out was anempirical research that involved taking part in face to faceinterviews with the various participants chosen for the study.
Zwiers,O’Hara and Pritchard (2014), state that complex languageincorporates features that include the organization of the message,the density of ideas, registration and coherence of ideas. Studentsmust realize that academic messages comprise an idea, support for theidea and an explanation of the support. The research was based onthe hypothesis that “Anidea, thought or feeling is more effectively and easily expressedusing simple and clear language as opposed to using complexlanguage”. As stipulated, complex language has its advantages and disadvantages,a fact that the proposal sought to explore. In reaction to theresults of the research, the report has prescribed a number ofpossible implications likely to be taken by policy makers and usersof the systems.
Theaim of the project was to find out the effects of using complexlanguage in teaching and learning. This required the personal,independent and expert opinions of diverse stakeholders in matters ofeducation. For this particular project, the stakeholders were labeledas participants and they were basically charged with theresponsibility of providing their views on the subject matter. Thestudy identified one hundred participants who included educators/teachers, students, curriculum developers, corporate executives andmembers of the general public.
Educators/Teachers and Students/ Learners
Inthis category, twenty teachers and twenty students from all levels ofeducation were identified and interviewed. Teachers and theirstudents are the end users of language in learning institutions andits complexity or simplicity directly affects them. At the onset ofthe interview, it was mandatory for the interviewer to ensure thatthe interviewees understood the meaning of complex language. Theinterviewer sought to find out whether the use of complex languageallows students to understand the content better, express themselvesbetter or perform better in their exams. In addition, questions wereasked to help establish whether using complex language makes iteasier to grasp and comprehend concepts for students, or whether itmakes it easier to pass information to students as opposed to the useof simpler language.
Theparticipants came from both private and public learning institutions.
Fromthe responses received from the teachers and students, it wasapparent that both parties differed in their point of view. Theeducators at the higher levels of education beginning from thesecondary schools were more inclined towards the use of complexeducation in the system. They were of the opinion that this couldimprove the caliber of education. However, they stated that usingcomplex language would cause problems since it was not commonly usedthereby would affect the performance of the students in theirexaminations. It was at this point that the true purposes ofeducation were questioned. Do students go to school to study andlearn concepts to help them in life, or is going to school meant tohelp them pass their examinations?
Atthe university level, the educators advocated for the use of complexlanguage stating that at this point in life, students were gettingprepared to enter the corporate world which included globalattachments. For this reason, they advocated for teachers to helpstudents get out of their comfort zone so that they could easily fitin the global corporate world.
Mostof the students seemed to favor the use of simpler language due tothe issue of exams a fact that caused the researcher to ask thequestion raised earlier seeking to establish the real reason behindeducation. On a positive note, though, more than 50 percent of thestudents at all levels said that using complex language had positiveeffects on the processes of education.
CurriculumDevelopers/ Education Experts
Curriculumdevelopers are government representatives in the Ministry ofEducation who are charged with recognizing the education requirementsof students. The researcher identified fifteen individuals from theMinistry of Education’s curriculum development section. Other fiveeducational experts were sourced from the private sector and mainlyincluded authors of books and columnists in periodical publications.Those interviewed were sourced from various hierarchical levels so asto provide a non-biased view on the subject. Gauging the needs ofstudents at different levels, they were able to analyze whether theuse of complex language has any effects, both negative and positive.
Thecurriculum developers gave mixed reactions based on their expertiseand general view of education. Some were of the opinion that complexeducation prepared students better and caused them to think beyondthe confines of their classroom. However, others were of the opinionthat complex language did not serve any positive purpose because itmade the process of learning and teaching more difficult. All in all,ninety percent were in support of using complex language beyondsecondary school when students were being prepared to take overprofessional responsibilities. They claimed that earlier than that,this would mess up the system because it would interfere with theirabilities to comprehend concepts.
Participantsfrom the general public comprised individuals like parents selectedrandomly, random persons doing business, religious leaders, sportsmenand other randomly picked individuals. In this category, theexpertise was not a necessary requirement though it was necessary tolearn their views on the subject. The study was interested inestablishing whether their use or lack of complex language in theirschool days has had any effect on their current lives.
Contraryto expectations, the participants in this group were in support ofusing complex language in schools. Apparently, having gone throughthe education system and currently reaping the benefits of their hardwork or reluctance to study hard, they had the most sincere andstrongest views on the topic. More than ninety percent of them saidthat efforts should be made to ensure that education standards shouldbe raised and that students should be given room to think beyond thenorm. They claimed that “spoon-feeding”, a term which was used torefer to the act of teachers leaving little or no room forimagination by providing all the information to students should beabolished. Some of them said that in the world outside of theclassroom, decision making was a difficult process that requiredpreparation from a young age. There wasn’t room for consultationsand asking numerous questions in running business, running familiesor doing different things in life. By stating this, they meant thatthe education system was not tough enough to prepare real lifesituations. They advocated for the use of complex language.
Thecorporate executives interviewed comprised twenty individuals fromvarious organizations. They were from different sectors being thefinancial sector, the manufacturing sector, the hospitality industry,the building and construction and the public/ government. Theresearch incorporated different managerial levels ranging from topexecutives to the lowest cadre of line managers. The questions askedsought to find out the ability of employees to communicateeffectively, make decisions and implement policy, all which arehighly dependent on the value of education received. The participantsprovided their opinions on the use of complex language in teachingand learning, and the effects this may have on the future runners ofthe economy and the country at large.
Participantsfrom the corporate world were inclined towards the use of complexlanguage in teaching and learning. A large percentage of thoseinterviewed claimed that local graduates were unable to communicateeffectively especially in areas of expertise. They blamed this on thelocal education curriculum that failed to produce qualityprofessionals that was at par with global standards. As statedearlier, communication is key at all aspects of life. Ideas must bearticulately communicated in boardrooms and in offices. Decisionsmust be made as opposed to being on the receiving end of instructionsat all times. The future local and global executives must be in aposition to comprehend managerial, innovative and other diverseconcepts in order to move the world from its current level to thenext level. This meant that students had to be toughened up by makinguse of complex language.
However,a small percentage of executives were of the opinion that complexeducation was not important, and only had negative effects on thestudents. They claimed that if a student was able to communicate anintended message effectively using simple language, then it was notnecessary to make use of complex language. They insisted that forcingstudents to use complex language was detrimental to the quality ofeducation provided since it interfered with their comprehension ofideas, the main reason for going to school. They stated that the mostimportant aspect was that they understood what they were taught andthat they were able to create ideas, make decisions, solve problemsand eventually communicate with other parties effectively.
Allin all, the larger portion of ninety percent of the participants fromthis group of business executives supported that using complexlanguage in schools had positive effects on teaching and learning.
Theresearch sought to find out the effects of using complex education inteaching and learning, with complex education being the independentvariable, while the quality and ease (effects) of the teaching andlearning experiences were the dependent measures.
Toestablish these effects, face to face interviews were conducted withthe one hundred participants during pre-arranged appointments. Theinterviews were guided by the use of questionnaires administeredbefore the actual interview dates. The two part questionnairescontained open ended and close ended questions, with the open-endedquestions specifically based on the background of the interviewee.
Conductingface to face interviews was deemed critical for this exercise becauseit increased the chances of participation. In conducting interviews,a researcher may opt to send out questionnaires via email or conducttelephone interviews. These methods always end up provinginsufficient because they fail to receive optimal attention from theinterview. In the case of internet based questionnaires, many oftengo unanswered.
Theresearch hypothesis states that“Anidea, thought or feeling is more effectively and easily expressedusing simple and clear language as opposed to using complexlanguage”.However, contrary to the research hypothesis, the research came tothe conclusion that the effects of using complex education in theprocesses of teaching and learning are positive. This means that alarger percentage of the participants advocated for the use ofcomplex language as opposed to simple language.
Froma layman point of view, language is a code used for the sole ofpurpose of communication. However, this a rather narrow perspective,as portrayed by the education and corporate experts interviewed. Theyperceived language to be a personal, open, energetic, dynamic, andconstantly evolving concept presenting the rich complexities ofcommunication. This expanded view ensures that the student’seducational experience is more engaging. They were of the opinionthat language is less of a study subject but more of a means throughwhich students see, understand and communicate with the world. Withthis in mind, it became clear that language should be more than acode of words used to pass a message from one party to another.
Withthe complete identification and thorough investigation of the problemat hand being adequately addressed, necessary actions must be takenby stakeholders both at policy and practical levels.
Anideal implication at the policy making level would be theintroduction of components of complex language at lower educationallevels, in this case, secondary/ high schools level. This willinvolve adequate revision of the curriculum to accommodate this.Learners and their teachers at the practical level could designmodules and course materials that support the move. They shouldcreate a fully functional web based system that is user-friendly toaid in teaching and learning of language concepts. They could alsoformulate course materials to be used in the classroom as a teachingaid by the teachers, or use self-directed modes for students doingindependent studies. Teachers could be assisted by creating coursemanagement components that include tools for course creation,selection of modules and guidance on module selection. Assessment andproject materials, professional development materials, evaluationreports and user documentation components should also be integratedwith the system to achieve its desired results. With the mainbeneficiaries being the local teachers and students, the widespreaduse will ensure change in the entire country.
Themajor benefits of using the system are that teachers easily monitorthe progress of students they easily make decisions on coursemodules and also select source materials which assist in thedetermination of lessons, exercises and projects.
Hudson,R. & Walmsley, J. (2005). The English Patient: English Grammarand Teaching in the Twentieth Century. Journalof Linguistics.43 (3) 593-622
Cajkler,W. & Hislam, J. (2002) Trainee Teachers’ Grammatical Knowledge:The Tension between Public Expectations and Individual Competence,LanguageAwareness,11 (3), 161-177.
Zwiers,J., O’Hara, S. & Pritchard, R. (2014). Conversing to FortifyLiteracy, Language, and Learning. Voicesfrom the Middle. 22 (1) 1-8
Shohamy,E. 2007. Language tests as language policy tools. Assessmentin Education.14, 1, 117-130.
Table1. General response of the participants to whether the effects ofcomplex education are positive or negative
Positive response %
Negative Response %
Table2. Response on the quality of education
Not very good
EmpiricalResearch Report Format and Requirements JTC300
Youmust have a title page that includes a title, your name, your emailand ground mail addresses, and your institutional affiliation (adepartment at CSU). Your title should clearly and concisely indicatewhat your study is about. The method employed might be indicated inthe title (e.g., "A Content Analysis of Situation Comedies inPrime Time").
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